Unless you didn’t know about them before now, the Tojiro knives are not what they used to be anymore.
That is not talking in terms of blade quality and finish, though, as they still maintain a standard in that regard.
Instead, I am talking about the price of the knives which have now slightly gone up.
If you think they are affordable at the current price point, know that they used to be way more affordable.
But then, are these Tojiro knives worth any money or you should not even give them a second look?
That’s why I’m here for you today.
What are Tojiro Knives?
Tojiro knives have been here since 1955 which tells you all you need to know about how much experience they have in making knives. The company must have also been doing something right for them to still be here today.
One of the most notable things about the Tojiro company is that they have been innovators right from the start. Back when carbon stainless steel knives were revered as the best blades for knife making, this company was determined to let the market see the benefits of standard stainless steel also.
They have evolved from that time into the current era where they merge the Japanese knifemaking legacy with European design elements, creating truly unique and highly functional knives at impressive price points.
While the pricing on Tojiro products has gone up a bit in recent years, it is important to note that the costs of labor and manufacturing are not staying stagnant either. Relative to other knife brands, the cost of an average Tojiro knife is still affordable.
How Are Tojiro Knives Made?
Tojiro knives combine ancient knife and blade-making techniques with modern technology to deliver knives suitable for use by both home and professional chefs.
A majority of Tojiro blades come with clad steel, forged in the same manner as the highly durable and quality katanas (Japanese swords).
That traditional technique is fed into new and modern equipment to scale the process and produce these knives at scale such that the company can cater to its growing customer base without a drop in quality.
This mass production with proven techniques is also one of the many secrets to why Tojiro can keep its knives affordable. If they were handmade to achieve this same level of quality as it is done in the past, the prices of the knife would be driven up massively.
Where Are Tojiro Knives Made?
The Tojiro company confirms that all its knives are made in Japan. The company prides itself as one of the remaining few knifemakers situating their full-scale knife production in the country.
Every Tojiro knife is created in the Tsubame-Sanjo which is known to be a central hub for cutlery making in Japan. While some manufacturers choose to take their processes to China so that they can get access to cheaper labor and raw materials, Tojiro has maintained the art of crafting its knives in Japan and still keeping the prices reasonable.
Furthermore, all the manufacturing processes around Tojiro knives are completed by the company itself. They do not outsource the manufacturing of the knife, either in parts or whole, ensuring strict adherence to quality assurance and control.
Products in the Tojiro Knife Line-up
Having been here for a while now, the Tojiro company has a list of knives that it carries.
Some of these knives can do just about the same thing, while others are specialized to certain tasks.
To make things interesting, Tojiro has created different knife series which you can either get in whole or customize against other series.
Let’s get into them:
Tojiro Flash Series
The Tojiro Flash series explores what it would be like to enjoy the best of two good worlds with VG10 and carbon stainless steel.
This double-beveled knife series is carefully forged and created such that the combination of metals not only results in desired properties but also brings a patterned wave with it.
When you’re not looking at the elegant design on the body of the knife, you will be impressed by the sharpness ensured by the carbon stainless steel. Since VG10 itself has a high carbon percentage, I know that Tojiro put this one in there to make the knife even better at staying strong.
I would have preferred more pronounced bevelling in the handles so that users know where their fingers rest comfortably. However, the laminated handle is made such that it accommodates different kinds of handling with ease.
Tojiro Shippu/ Tojiro Shippu Black Series
Both series might look like they are the same, but they carry some fundamental differences that you should look at before buying.
For starters, both the Tojiro Shippu and Tojiro Shippu Black series are forged from a combination of VG10 with low and high carbon stainless steel also, the same as the Flash series. They both carry the same kinds of knives in their series and look the same.
The first and most visual difference comes on the handles where the normal Shippu features a Japanese magnolia wood handle finished with a cream color. As the name implies, the Shippu Black’s handle has a black paint job and is made from chestnut wood instead.
On the Shippu Black, Tojiro applied fire treatment to the handle which makes it even more durable. On top of that, the blade is treated under the black oxide processing method which is the same process used on medical equipment.
Thus, it is not only as sharp as it can be but also resistant to corrosion.
Knives in the series: Santoku knife; Nakiri knife; Slicer Knife; Chef Knife; Peeling Knife; Paring Knife.
Tojiro Zen/ Tojiro Zen Black Series
Just like the series directly above, the difference between the Black and non-Black series here is the same.
That means the same kind of wood went on the handle, the same kind of material went on the blade and the same black oxide treatment went on the Black model, as above.
For the Zen series, Tojiro aimed at balance.
They started this off with a design element that begins from a round handle. Before you buy this, note that not everyone is comfortable with a round handle and you might need something less roll-y, so to speak.
For those who can grip the round handle fine, you’ll find that the knife is rightly-weighted such that it doesn’t feel too heavy in hand.
Tojiro kills two birds with one stone with the knife-to-handle connection, making the sturdy and rigid linkage as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Finished with beautiful Japanese markings on the sharp stainless steel blade, every Zen knife should truly bring balance to those who seek them.
Knives in the series: Slicer knife; Chef knife; Peeling Knife; Paring Knife; Mini-Light Deba Knife; Deba Knife; Santoku Knife; Nakiri Knife.
Tojiro DP Series
The DP series launched Tojiro into the limelight and they are still here today. The fact that the company has not had to do much in terms of refining this knife tells of how an original and quality knife they have been right from the start.
So, what’s all the fuss about the Tojiro DP knife?
One of the biggest issues with carbon stainless steel knives is maintenance. With the Tojiro DP series, merging VG10 and 13-chrome stainless steel meant Tojiro was able to retain the sharpness that they desired while ensuring easy cleaning and maintenance for users also.
Sloping down from the blade into the handle, you meet the stainless steel metal bolster which is both functional as it is practical. The design prevents the trapping of dirt and debris between the knife and handles itself, keeping your cooking processes hygienic.
Going into the ergonomic handle itself, every knife in the Tojiro DP series enjoys a laminated handle that is will neither deform nor get damaged over time of normal use.
For a knife that has an award (Good Design and Long-Life Design awards) to its name, it surely cuts through other rivals in this category quite easily.
Knives in the series: Kiritsuke knife; Bread Knife; Carving knife; Western Deba knife; Chef knife; Petty Knife; Chicken Boning Knife; Peeling Knife; Gyutou knife; Paring Knife; Steak Knife; Santoku Knife.
Tojiro A-1 Series
The Tojiro A-1 series is not a fully-formed series of its own but a spinoff of the successful DP series.
Featuring about the same materials, Tojiro has chosen to limit this series to a small number of knives only.
Looking through the models that they have put out here, the company is surely trying to cater more to home chef users than they are appealing to professional cooks and chefs.
When the provisions of the Tojiro DP series look like they are more than what you need, this is the next best bet. I don’t see why you should skip the Tojiro DP for this one unless you see something that truly catches your fancy there.
Knives in the series: Nakiri knife; Santoku knife; Chef knife; Petty Knife.
Tojiro Pro/ Pro Nickel Damascus/ Pro Japanese/ Pro Meister Japanese Series
I don’t need to be the one to tell you that Tojiro went all out on the Pro series. It seems that they hit a jackpot here and they wanted to milk that offering for all that it’s got.
So, what makes the Pro series different from others on this list?
The basic Tojiro Pro knives feature a unique tornado pattern handle that makes the knife better to look at while also improving the level of handling.
Without this pattern, I’m very sure the knife would have handled well. Now that it is there, I wish Tojiro had put it on the other knives that they have.
On the materials side, they kept to the signature VG10 stainless steel, dabbing on some 13-chrome stainless steel for effect. This way, the knife keeps all of its sharpness and durability while being easier to maintain than if it were one of those steels alone.
The Pro Japanese series focuses more on Japanese-style knives like the Deba and Tako-Sashimi designs. These knives would be better preferred by professional cooks who are great at knife handling but that does not mean home cooks won’t benefit from it also.
Tojiro kept the same blade material combination here but chose to use a wooden handle instead. However, we get the same tornado handle treatment on this knife handle also.
Looking at the Pro Meister series, it is sure that Tojiro took inspiration from the Pro Japanese line-up. The handle and blade material are not only the same but the blade classification is also similar.
Finally, the Pro Nickel Damascus models after the original Pro knives. This time around, the steel is maintained with some nickel content and the Damascus steel cladding is introduced for effect.
Knives in the series: Yanagi-Sashimi knife; Deba Knife; Usuba (Square Cut) Knife; Tako-Sashimi Knife; Chef Knife; Nakiri Knife; Slicer Knife; Petty Knife; Chicken Boning Knife; Chinese Knife; Western Deba Knife; Petty Knife.
Should You Buy the Tojiro Kitchen Knives?
For their price point, they seem to be well-made knives.
Even though the looks are not what will cut my meals, I like it when my knives look good too. And these do look good.
But is that enough reason to justify buying one? I have checked out these knives under the following headings to determine if they are a good buy for you or not.
Tojiro does not cut corners when it comes to the kinds of material that they use for the knife.
The entire anatomy of the basic Tojiro knife follows quality materials from VG10 and low to high carbon stainless steel. In some instances, we also have elements of chrome stainless steel in the mix.
If you were not aware, these represent some of the sharpest and highest quality blade materials on the market.
The fact that they do not use basic stainless steel yet come up with these prices is surely laudable.
On another hand, the handles are also of the premium build. Tojiro is diverse in the handle materials that it uses on its knives, ranging from a variety of wooden picks to stainless steel finishes.
I mentioned how Tojiro has married the traditional knife forging to modern knifemaking technology – and they continue to excel with that.
The full-tang knives have their blades created from the forging process instead of stamping. That process comes with irregularities of shape but Tojiro has managed to eliminate that with precise machining.
On all of the models, I am impressed with how the blade transitions seamlessly into the handle. If anything, that creates a single, uniform appeal that creates better balance, handling, and usability of the knife.
Speaking of balance, the Zen series is not the only ergonomic design from Tojiro. With all other series maintaining a decent center of gravity, Tojiro does one better by offering knives in different sizes that suits different users.
When I was reviewing some of the best high carbon stainless steel knives on the market, I did mention how this kind of stainless steel is great at edge retention.
That tells you that the Tojiro knives would hold their edges for longer.
That’s not the only good news, though.
When it comes to sharpening the knife properly, they also respond well. Since they keep their edge for long even on mild to heavy usage, you can get away with honing the knife much more than you sharpen it.
Throw some stropping in there to keep the knife working at top quality for longer also.
Tojiro doesn’t want you to use the same knife for all the tasks in your kitchen.
To achieve that, they have launched a variety of different knives under the same series. Checking out the knife in the series as have been pointed out, you see that you can choose from chef and santokus, bread knives, paring knives, vegetable knives, and boning knives.
You get exotic Japanese cooking knives like the Deba, mini Deba knife, the Sashimi, and more.
If you don’t want to have all of these knives in your small kitchen, the chef/ santoku knife, paring knife and serrated knife will be more than enough for you. Make sure to choose a series that you like the best, or mix the knives individually from the various series above.
Following the build quality, the graduation of the knife blade into the handle is one worthy quality aspect to consider.
Tojiro also makes it such that you can handle the knife efficiently if you have a bigger thumb than most users.
Perhaps the best ergonomic approach to safety is the offering of the same knives (such as the petty knife, Nakiri knife, chef knife, and more) in different sizes. That way, you are not conformed to using a standard size but you can choose which best works for you.
Finally, the quality of the build means the knife won’t give up on you anytime soon.
Make sure to follow proper knife usage and storage etiquettes and you are good to go.
What I Love the Most About Tojiro Knives
Right off the bat, I love the variety.
I like it when a brand has multiple knives targeting different demographics. That allows me to get into the brand experience in my custom way.
A little snag here with Tojiro is that some series could be merged or scrapped altogether. However, there are no poor builds or designs – which is yet another thing that I love here.
On the further upside, Tojiro has managed to keep the price of these knives relatively low. Now, you can have beautiful and functional Japanese knives in your kitchen without having to break the bank.
Finished with solid materials that will keep their edge for long and stay durable for even longer, I could not be more pleased with these knives.
What I Don’t Like About the Tojiro Knives
Like I said before, I’d start with the sub-series.
While I don’t mind having a series of knives from the same manufacturer, creating further sub-series could make things complicated. That might just be me but I believe that they could have done better in that regard.
Elsewhere, the company seems to be stuck on the VG10 stainless steel as the core steel for their knife blades. Being a high carbon stainless steel, the maintenance might be too high for some. This is the general trade-off that most users have with this kind of steel when they have gone to it for the sharpness it promises.
Tojiro vs Shun Knives
Shun knives are yet another grade of Japanese knives that I hold in high esteem. I have done a comprehensive Shun Knife review here that you can check out yourself also.
Like Tojiro, Shun also uses high carbon stainless steel knives to get that impressive edge retention and sharpness down. Unlike Shun, though, Tojiro does not experiment with other brands of steel as much.
That is one of the things that I love about Shun – especially the way they make any kind of steel that they lay hands on works well for them.
Both Japanese knifemakers make their knives from Japan, telling you that they sourced the true materials that belonged to the katanas of old. Likewise, they both have a way with a design that makes you want their knives.
If I was hard-pressed to choose one between these two, I would say it is a draw between Tojiro knives and Shun knives. If you want more core steel and design options, though, Shun knives would be the ideal option for you.
Final Thoughts: Tojiro Knives
If you were wondering if these knives are worth your money, here’s a short answer:
Yes, they are.
Tojiro has been here for a while now and as I said, they would not remain in the market if they weren’t doing something right.
I also love the fact that they are constantly innovating and coming up with new series. For a change, I would like to see what they can do with other core steel besides VG10.
But then, they have found something that works for them so they might want to continue niching down in this regard.
I hope they keep the quality and standards that they have been coming with for years to come. For now, though, Tojiro knives are one of the most affordable Japanese and general kitchen knives that you can buy without sacrificing quality.